ACEN Accreditation Manual – Section II Policies
The ACEN maintains an ongoing, systematic review designed to ensure that (1) the Standards and Criteria are valid and reliable indicators of the educational quality provided by accredited programs and are relevant to the educational needs of students; (2) ACEN processes are reliable and assess knowledge and consistency of observations, applications, decisions, and perceptions; and (3) there are broad communications and consultations across constituencies.
The findings from the ongoing review are used for development, maintenance, and revision of the Standards and Criteria, processes, and practices. Evidence to support ongoing systematic review appears in Commission minutes, annual reports, the ACEN Report to Constituents, on the ACEN website, and at the ACEN Forums.
THE PROCESS OF REVIEW
The process of review:
- Is comprehensive;
- Occurs at regular intervals;
- Examines each Standard and its accompanying Criteria as a whole;
- Involves relevant constituencies in the review;
- Affords relevant constituencies a meaningful opportunity to provide input into the review; and
- Requires that needed changes be made promptly to improve the ACEN’s effectiveness and efficiency and the consumer friendliness of ACEN products and services.
ASPECTS OF THE REVIEW
A full review of the Standards and Criteria occurs every five years. The process consists of:
- Review of ongoing data analysis;
- Review of literature for trends in evaluation, nursing practice, and nursing education;
- Review of U.S. Department of Education (USDE) Regulations;
- Review of Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) Recognition Policy and Procedures;
- Distribution of draft versions to constituencies for comment;
- Review of comments and revision of drafts;
- Distribution of the revised drafts for comment;
- Review of comments and revision of drafts as needed; and
- Board of Commissioners adoption of revised Standards and Criteria.
RELIABILITY OF ACEN PROCESSES
Reliability is ensured by:
- Analysis of internal consistency of the accreditation status recommendations/decisions across the three levels of review by and among all program types per accreditation review cycle and trended over time;
- Identification of non-compliance and areas needing development by Criterion among all program types per accreditation review cycle and trended over time; and
- Analysis of the perceived effectiveness of the planning and conduct of the accreditation site visit by the nursing program and the site visit teams by program type per accreditation review cycle and trended over time.
COMMUNICATION AND BROAD CONSULTATION PRACTICES
Communication is ensured by:
- Solicitation of comments on proposed new or revised policies from interested parties;
- Distribution of the Annual Report findings in the Report to Constituents and on the ACEN website as aggregated data trended over time; and
- Broad consultation across constituencies.
PLANNED USE OF DATA ANALYSIS
Data analysis is used to:
- Maintain validity and relevance of the Standards and Criteria;
- Maintain reliability of the ACEN accreditation processes and practices;
- Continue to identify and disseminate information in appropriate arenas regarding specific education needs of nursing programs and peer evaluators as groups;
- Continue to identify and disseminate information in appropriate arenas regarding specific developmental needs of nursing programs and peer evaluators; and
- Continue to identify and disseminate information in appropriate arenas regarding areas in which change(s) needs to be facilitated.
EVALUATION OF THE SITE VISIT
For each site visit, the nurse administrator of the nursing program, team chair, and team members have an evaluation form to complete. The information is used to:
- Improve the quality of the accreditation process; and
- Identify potential team chairs.
All accredited nursing programs are required to submit an Annual Report. The Annual Report will request, at a minimum, the following information:
- Program completion rates;
- Job placement rates; and
- Licensure and certification examination pass rates.
The ACEN staff will review the information to ensure that nursing programs continue to comply with policies and reporting requirements. Significant changes will be referred to the ACEN Board of Commissioners and action may be taken as appropriate. Failure to submit the Annual Report could result in the ACEN Board of Commissioners taking appropriate action, including potentially altering the program’s accreditation status.
Data about individual programs will be used for monitoring purposes. Data about all programs will be reported publicly in aggregate form only, trended over time.
Programs with Title IV-HEA responsibilities must also submit information regarding compliance with their Title IV responsibilities and the result of financial or compliance audits.
Policy #24 History
Revised November 2015
Edited October 2016
Revised November 2018
Revised March 2019